Archive for the ‘great ocean road’ Category

The Great Ocean Road: Redux

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

The next day was another early morning as we had to leave our hotel around 7 am to meet the great ocean road tour bus. I debated not going with my family to do this tour for the second time and spending the day curled up with my laptop and some room service, but I figured that since this was supposed to be a family vacation and all I would suck it up and just go. At the very least I could be sure that dad would do something ridiculous that would embarrass the family, and who would want to miss out on that.


Start of the Great Ocean Road



It takes about two and a half hours to get from downtown Melbourne to the start of the Great Ocean Road, and true to form Melbourne was overcast, windy, chilly, and rainy. The driver we had for our trip didn’t do nearly as many stops on the Great Ocean Road as the driver I had the first time did, although this might have been because we had a much bigger group with us, or because since it was now winter there were less daylight hours to spend on the road. Regardless of how many stops you make the one stop everyone makes is at the Twelve Apostles rock formations. The Twelve Apostles are the seven remaining limestone rock formations that sit away from the shore, there used to be twelve but over the years erosion has left only seven.


The 7 remaining apostles


Given that this is one of the main attractions on the Great Ocean Road, it is the longest stop the tours usually make, they give you about 45 minutes. So Mom, Dad, Julie and I piled out of the bus when we got to this stop to check out the formations. We wandered around for a good twenty minutes or so before heading off in different directions. Since Julie, Mom and I are all capable of telling time, we were back on the bus when our 45 minutes were up and of course Dad was nowhere to be found. Julie and I were quite unconcerned about this. I mean, he is 50 something adult male in reasonable mental standing and therefore it is reasonable for us to expect that he can take care of himself. Mom seems to feel otherwise.

She started pestering us as to his whereabouts, which of course we had no more knowledge about than she did. Soon her pestering turned into suggesting that one of us should go after him since she couldn’t get very far on her bum ankle. Julie and I made eye contact and without words knew that neither one of us would be volunteering to do this alone, so I asked her if she would go with me. Julie and I tossed this idea around for another minute or so as Mom moved from worrying to a full fledged panic as the bus driver began counting everyone on the bus. As the bus driver comes by to count us Mom explained that Dad was still missing, and the driver seemed unconcerned since it was an adult that was missing and not some small child. Little does he know that my father being missing is perhaps worse than a small child being missing because at least a child knows that he should not be out on his own, whereas my father still thinks he is capable of wandering off without supervision. Mom tried to explain this, but the driver only laughed.

Finally, seeing the desperation on mom’s face Julie relents and we both got off the bus to search for Dad. Having never been a member of a search party Julie and I made the rookie mistake of splitting up, and of course as soon as we had run off in opposite directions Dad showed back up on the bus, thus shifting Mom’s panic from where Dad was to where Julie and I were. Since I hadn’t made it as far away as Julie had, I heard Mom when she yelled at me to come back, and I did, but then we were still one person short.

The bus driver has counted the number of passengers on board at least twice, and as mom and dad both pester me to go after Julie (didn’t they get that this didn’t work the first time?) the driver shuts the doors and begins to drive through the parking lot towards the highway entrance. Now both parents are panicking and practically pushing me up to the front of the bus. Why the responsibility to find Julie who Mom sent to look for Dad falls on my shoulders I don’t know, but I suspect it just has something to do with shit rolling downhill. So I go up to the bus driver and sheepishly explain that my sister is still missing and he looked considerably less than pleased. Our family has held the whole group up a good ten minutes and he seems even more frustrated when I explain that I have no idea where she is and the only recourse is to go out after her myself. Embarrassed and frustrated I take off after Julie and luckily it isn’t long until I find her and we are both back on the bus. As soon as we are, we dig into Mom for sending us out after Dad, and in response Mom yells at Dad for not being able to tell time. Dad of course absolves any responsibility for the situation saying that by the time he was on the bus Julie and I were the ones missing. So in other words, everyone ends up disgruntled and frustrated and its another lovely day with the Lapointes.

in case you forget


Thankfully the rest of our trip on the Great Ocean Road passed uneventfully and we got back to our hotel in Melbourne around 9pm that night. We went to bed almost immediately after returning to the hotel because we had to be at the airport by 7 the following day meaning we had to be in the lobby waiting for our shuttle pick up by 5. This was to be our last night in Australia, next stop- FIJI!









A Flight to Melbourne, A Drive On The Great Ocean Road

Monday, April 4th, 2011

After class ended on Thursday I frittered away the afternoon until I realized I had a plane to catch at 10pm and frantically packed at the last minute and met up with Lyndsay, Seth and Jordan to fly to Melbourne for the weekend. We flew with a small company that is a subset of Quantas called Jet Star. It is a budget airline, and we got a roundtrip ticket to Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bin) for under $200, which is pretty awesome. Our flight left Sydney at 9:50 and the flight time was about an hour and ten minutes, putting us at Avalon Airport in Melbourne around 11 pm. The airport we flew into I don’t really feel justified in calling an airport. Really it was more of a very large shed with a parking lot for airplanes. It was a budget airport, which means there were only four terminals, the parking lot was gravel, the boarding passes were printed on the paper they use for receipts, there was only one food option inside, and it was located 45 minutes outside of the city so once we landed we had to get a bus into Melbourne. But hey, it was cheap!

Once we actually got into the city we walked from southern cross station to our hostel, which was called Nomads. We had booked ahead of time, and the four of us were sharing a room with four bunk beds and our own bathroom, we were lucky to get this because rooms can sometimes have 10-20 beds to one bathroom. We plopped our stuff down and then went out in search of food and an ATM because were going on a bus tour of the great ocean road the following morning at 7:30 am and had to pay in cash. Melbourne around 1 am on a friday morning is a ghost town. It might have just been the area we were in, but things were eerily dead. There seemed to be a lot more chain restaurants in Melbourne though. 7-11s were on just about every corner, along with McDonalds, Subways and a sprinkling of Starbucks. Once we had eaten and gotten money we crashed because we had to be up in about four hours.

The next morning we were up bright and early and waiting outside our hostel for the tour bus to come pick us up. It was dark and chilly out and I was having serious flashbacks to waiting for the bus in middle school. The bus came by, we payed, boarded, picked up some other passengers and we were off to the Great Ocean Road! Our tour bus was not full by any means. Aside from the four of us there was a family from the states and a few other families, but we each had two seats to stretch out across which was really nice.

The Great Ocean Road is a 151 mile stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia that links the cities of Torquay and Warnambool, which are both in the state of Victoria. The road was built by soldiers who returned from war between 1919 and 1932 and is the worlds largest war memorial, dedicated to the lives lost in WWI. When you see pictures of it most often you will see pictures of the Twelve Apostles, which are limestone stack rock formations. Our bus tour was not going to run the whole length of the road, but it was going to take all day. We left in the dark and by the time we got back at the end of the day it was dark again. The tour took us about seven hours out along the road, and then drove us back, stopping several times at major landmarks along the way. Our first stop was a beautiful beach.

Me, Jordan and Seth on our first stop. Jordan looks to be as tall as Seth and I here, this is an illusion.


Official starting point of the Great Ocean Road and our second stop

Memorial to the workers who built the road

More oceanic views

The area the Great Ocean Road is located in is very biologically diverse and so one of the stops we made was into one of the patches of rainforest along it which was wild.



Lindsay being framed perfectly by rainforest foliage

Map of the 12 Apostles

And the real thing. There used to be 12 of these limestone rock formations, but erosion has really taken its toll over the years and there are only about 5 left now.

It was really windy, and much cooler in Melbourne than it is in Sydney. Apparently the summers in Melbourne are much cooler and end much faster.

This made us laugh. It's hard to see but someone put googly eyes on the stick figure guy

Family! Perfectly proportioned, two males, two females, two short, two tall.

I have so many different photographic variations of this picture.

razor back rock formation explanation

Razorback rock formation

They look like mushrooms!

Lyndsay and I posin

They named this rock formation "London Bridge" and then parts of it fell down. I think they doomed it.

London Bridge rock fell down.

More cool limestone rock formations

rocky coastline

Erosion makes the edges of this mammoth incredibly smooth

One of the stops we made was to feed the beautiful tropical birds in this region. They have gotten so used to tourists that they will quite literally eat out of your hands.

License plate I need for my car at home

Me and Lyndsay

So after a long day driving the Great Ocean Road we were all exhausted but still wanting to check out what nightlife Melbourne had to offer. As luck would have it Jordan had some friends from his pre trip that were studying in Melbourne, so we went back to the hostel, grabbed a quick dinner, showered, changed and met up with Jordans friends at their apartment which turned out to be right down the street from our hostel. Jordans friends showed us some great Melbourne hospitality and Lyndsay even met a guy who went to Maryland and was involved in greek life there, so they had plenty to talk about. After about an hour hanging out at their apartment we all headed out in search of clubs and bars. There was a group of about 15 of us which made getting a cab or making any decisions very difficult. This was compounded by the fact that a bit of wine had been consumed so energy was high and rational productive thinking was low. The activities of the day were really beginning to catch up with me, and since we weren’t that far from our hostel I opted to sit this evening out, and head back to the hostel to go to sleep early. Jordan, Seth, and Lyndsay went out with Jordan’s Melbourne friends and we all got to enjoy sleeping in a bit the next day.

Probably the best picture of the four of us from the whole weekend. Taken at Jordan's friends apt.

April Adventures to Come!

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

In place of our normal Tuesday adventuring this week Yaella and I popped into a local Backpackers World Travelers travel agency. This is basically a free travel agent that makes money by receiving kick backs from the tour companies they recommend, and they specialize in booking cheap trip for students and backpackers. The purpose of that visit was to nail down our reservations for a trip to Tasmania that we have been discussing going on. We weren’t really sure what kind of activities we wanted to go on while we were there, but we knew we wanted to do a wineglass bay tour.

Wine glass Bay

Tasmania is part of Australia technically, but most Australians don’t actually consider it to be. It is kinda the unloved red headed step child in most Australians minds.  While looking at brochures and doing research for our trip I found this quote that said “Tasmania is an island of inspiration, a world apart, not a world away.” Most of the natural environment of Tasmania remains untouched, and 37% of the total land mass lies in national parks, world heritage sites, and wildlife reserves. The climate is incredibly bipolar, and the travel agent was telling us that it could be warm enough to go swimming and snow in the same day depending on where you are in the country.

The island is 226 miles long from its northernmost to its southernmost point, and 190 mi from west to east. So its not huge. Still, Yaella and I are looking at doing a five day trip there and getting a fair amount of hiking in during that time.

We would probably fly into Lanceston and work our way down to Hobart, which is the capitol city, and fly home from there.

While we are still ironing out plans to go to Tasmania during a weekend in April, we have already booked our flights to Melbourne for the first weekend of April. Yaella, Lyndsay, Jordan and I will all be flying out at 5pm on April 1st, staying in a hostel and getting up early the next day to do an all day tour of the Great Ocean Road. This is the one attraction everyone keeps insisting is THE thing to do in Melboure (in Australia this is pronounced Mel- bin) so we have booked our tickets already.

The 12 Apostles limestone rock formations

The Great Ocean Road is a 151 mi stretch of road along the south-eastern coast. The road was built by soliders that had returned home from WWI between 1919 and 1932, and is the world’s largest war memorial; dedicated to those lost in the war. It is an important tourist attraction in the region, which winds through varying terrain alongside the coast, and provides access to several prominent landmarks; including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations.

The tour we booked is a bus tour that basically takes all day, but lets you out at different points along the route for varying amounts of time.

The Great Ocean Road

Plenty of time on planes traveling means plenty of time to catch up on my readings for class while I am a safe distance away from an internet connection, which is my major downfall in terms of distractions. At the end of April I will leave for my spring break trip (technically a fall break trip in the southern hemisphere) to Thailand! I am so pumped about this I even downloaded an app onto my ipod that counts down the days, as of today only 30 days to go! I also enrolled in a frequent flier program because I am going to be racking up some crazy miles and it would be nice to log all of them and earn a free flight somewhere, since I will undoubtedly be broke as a joke by the end of this trip.

In other news, I applied for the Study Abroad Internship program through the International Student office at Usyd and was accepted. The next step was for them to send me internship options in the fields I had expressed interest in, which for me were media and communications, and public relations. They sent me a long list of internship option profiles, each one detailing the type of work I would be doing and some background on the company I would be working with. I was asked to rank these in order of preference, and a day later I heard that I had an interview with the Office of PR and Development at the University of Sydney, which is great because that means I don’t have to walk very far to get to it should I get the position.

On Tuesday I went over for the interview and the guy who would be my boss interviewed me and was really laid back and had a great sense of humor. He is also an american who up until four months ago worked with the University of Chicago. He was impressed with my background in writing and asked for me to send him some published writing samples. We chatted for over 45 minutes about Australia and America and it seemed like it went really well. If I get the position I would be drafting and editing proposals for groups who are seeking grants for projects and research in addition to dealing with the public relations aspects of public and private donors. There was also talk of the creation of a database of all the donors USyd has dealt with in the past, which would require some research and data entry. I am supposed to hear back by the end of the week so heres hoping! Should I get the position I can transfer it back to UMW for credit and it would also count as a class here, which would be fantastic because it would mean I could drop something else and have less homework and more time to travel. The way I see it I would rather spend my time here traveling and getting in as much of the country as I can because classrooms and homework pretty much look the same everywhere you go.